A robot that can make 360 burgers an hour could put many fast-food workers out of a job – exactly as its designers intended.
Silicon Valley-based Momentum Machines developed the device, which is more like an assembly line than a humanoid robot, reported Singularity Hub.
“Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient,” said Momentum co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas. “It’s meant to completely obviate them.”
The company says the burger-flipping robot could take the place of two or three line cooks and save restaurant owners about $90,000 a year in salary and benefits.
The robots also reduce liability, management duties, and the space needed to prepare food, the website reported.
Some restaurant owners could use those savings to improve the quality of ingredients – basically offering gourmet burgers at fast-food prices – but others could offer the same quality food at lower prices.
Many currently employed fast-food workers live below the poverty line despite working minimum-wage jobs, and the robot’s designers say they’ve got plans to help millions of low-skill workers find other jobs if they’re displaced by automation.
“We want to help the people who may transition to a new job as a result of our technology the best way we know how: education,” Momentum says on its website.
The company says it will team up with vocational schools to offer discounted technical training for workers displaced by the robots.
Oxford University researchers predicted in a recent study that 47 percent of U.S. jobs were at risk of being automated within 20 years – especially service occupations, where most recent job growth has occurred.
Jobs are also particularly at risk in the transportation, logistics, office, and administrative support industries, the researchers warned.
So far, the study found, the digital revolution has rewarded investors and the highest-skilled or most creative workers, and many of the lower-skilled jobs that have been lost to automation have not been replaced by anything else.
[Image: Fun robot via Shutterstock]